In 2007 the Supreme Court of Nepal granted basic rights to sexual minorities and recognised third gender as a new category entitled to citizenship.
This is a legal statement, but it is still difficult for Nepal’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community to be fully accepted by society. As Saurav Jung Thapa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kathmandu points out in his foreword to the book Pride Climbing Higher, Stories by LGBT People from Nepal society lags behind laws.
This book was an initiative of Chad Frisbie, an American writing instructor who organised workshops for LGBT Nepalis in 2013. At the book launch last week, assistant editor Danny Coyle insisted on the importance of giving Nepalis the possibility to write their own stories. “Till now, there were only foreigners writing about these issues in Nepal,” he said.
The 12 stories collected in Pride Climbing Higher were written by Nepalis who left their home villages for Kathmandu – most of them because they couldn’t live with their sexuality and faced pressure from their families.
In the first story, Sita Phuyal brings out this problem: she is locked in a room and beaten up by her own family and flees from her hometown in Sunsari. Phuyal now has a job in the capital where she lives with her companion but regrets she has no family anymore.
Vishnu Adikhary was also beaten by his father and brothers because they didn’t accept his sexuality. But after he talked to media to explain his identity, his parents apologised to him. They now accept him and encourage him for his work towards the minorities.
Sadhana KC's family was helpful until she came out publicly, and the fear of social stigma set it. Still, some of the stories are optimistic. Jyoti Thapa writes she was depressed for years, fearing her parents’ reaction regarding her sexuality, but when she came out, her family supported her and encouraged her to become a role model in her village.
Pride Climbing Higher shows the importance of media in raising awareness and promoting tolerance. In most of stories, we feel the relatives of the writers had no clue about LGBT – Roshan Mahato points out that it’s already difficult to talk about sexuality in Nepali society. Sometimes the writers themselves didn’t understand their sexuality and even questioned if they are ‘normal’. Mahato also writes: “People should know more about LGBTI identities.”
Photo: Ola Perczynska
The book has also been translated into Nepali by La.Lit Mag with the financial assistance from the Norwegian Embassy and will be distributed through 53 regional offices of the Blue Diamond Society.
Manisha Dhakal, executive director of the LGBT rights organisation (pictured) said she believes this book will change the perception of the community in Nepal. She adds: “We also hope it will make our law makers more aware of the LGBT issues.”
Out of the closet and proud of it, Sita Mademba
Intolerance for hate, Stéphane Huët
Hidden in plain view, Ayesha Shakya
Nothing without us, without us, Sunil Babu Pant
Queering the pitch, Mallika Aryal
A proud woman, Bhumika Shrestha